UK INSURANCE PROVIDER – Creating ‘Stand Out’ Leadership – UNITED KINGDOM – 2016

Emerge were commissioned to design a bespoke leadership programme for the client and more specifically, their directorate of Commercial Lines Intermediary (CLI). This channel of the business contributes the largest slice of the revenue generated in the UK and had announced new and challenging targets for the next five years – The 2020 Vision. Our remit was to focus on the CLI Senior Leadership Team, Branch Management population and those operational support management teams throughout CLI – totalling approximately 60 people.

Working in partnership with the client’s Learning and Development team, Emerge created a 100-day development journey that would aim to instil a leadership mind-set that would create a distinct and observable difference in behaviour. This would support the ambitious goals of the 2020 Vision through inspirational and transformational leadership, great coaching conversations and leaders who were ready and prepared to change their methods to grow their people and their business.

What did the Stand Out Leadership programme involve?
The Standout Leadership Programme takes a positive and resourceful view of what it required on a practical level to thrive as a Leader within an environment of constant pressure – where staff are being asked to do more and (often) with less.

We worked with the client to create a blended learning programme. This programme would be concentrated on a 2-day leadership module, called Stand Out Leadership, and other development initiatives that would challenge the delegates and help support them to keep the development momentum going. The programme involved:

• Learning preparation activities
• 2-day ‘Stand Out Leadership’ Module
• Fortnightly ‘Skill Boosters’ to support application of learning in the form of communications that would involve articles, videos and practical tools that could be applied immediately.
• Peer-to-Peer Coaching sessions, initiated through Action Learning Sets
• Accelerator Group Development Sessions – 1-Day sessions that would focus on the crucial topics that were required to counter-act any barriers that the delegates were experiencing
• Action Planning, which was tasked to all delegates in the form of a ‘100-Day Sprint Challenge’ and would require them to demonstrate those ‘Stand Out Leadership’ initiatives that they had implemented to make a difference to their people and their business.
• Finally, the programme concluded with a presentation day for all Managers to present in their teams to a Senior Leadership audience (including the UK CEO) to demonstrate the level of action, commerciality and innovation they had driven as a result of the Stand Out Leadership programme.

Why Stand Out Leadership?
The client was in a period of transition that required a programme that would inspire leaders to get behind change and to challenge their personal bias and preferred ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. The programme had to be very different from anything they had done before, required energy, and had to be impactful, practical in content and practical in terms of application of the tools within the programme. The programme centred on the work by Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Challenge and equipped the delegates with the level of awareness of the model and the practical tools to initiate each of the five exemplary leadership practices – Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart.

In addition to the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Model, delegates were introduced to the concept of Marginal Gains by David Brailsford. This was to help them identify with the principle of discovering and acting upon opportunities to become even better – even if their just gains of just 1%. Also, a key component of the programme, was the introduction of the Emerge Coaching Model – ORACLE. By introducing this model to the organisation, we equipped the management team with a greater level of coaching skill and have provided a new platform from which to re-align coaching standards and performance. This also set a precedent that coaching would indeed be one of the crucial conversational tools and catalysts for change and subsequent performance for the organisation.

How did this inspire a change in leadership behaviour?
What is the optimal balance between leading ‘hard’ and leading ‘smart’? When leading effort isn’t aligned with the organisational priorities and that of their people’s top, value-based priorities, it becomes increasingly easy to keep busy with unimportant things. Even modern-day technologies, intended to liberate individuals, often trap them in an onslaught of information and clutter. As a result, rather than responding proactively to the highest priorities and what is truly important, leaders can (and were) often become distracted and felt pressure to react to situations perceived as ‘urgent’ – neglecting to exercise the muscle-memory of the mind-set and skills that has got them to where they are.

It’s a true statement – when a leader’s thoughts, feelings, behaviours and activities align with their highest priorities, they have a credible claim to better performance and higher achievement from their people. When we experience a disconnect, we experience conflict and an impact that creates a ripple-effect through to those that follow them.

Stand Out Leadership created the platform for a new level of thinking, feeling, behaviour and language that would align all managers across this directorate of the business. In addition to this, the design of the programme encouraged all participants to be part of something special, to try something new and to do this through many different leadership behaviours and tools that would inspire their people.

What results have been seen so far?
The programme has gained rave reviews and is causing quite a stir throughout the organisation. The ambition is for Stand Out Leadership to become a ‘flagship’ programme and for this to be available globally for the client.

The response to the programme has shown that those attending (100%) had a great experience and even more important, that they felt committed and determined to put their learning into action. At the time of writing this, we have completed the initial 100-Day sprint for the first cohort and the initial signs are extremely positive:

• Performance across core KPIs has increased across most Branches against the previous year
• Customer retention is on an upward trend across most Branches against previous year and when comparing the 3-month period before the development and after.
• A team that had previously never experienced hitting their target, met target and has consistently met target since the Stand Out Leadership development
• New business performance has increased 11% from the previous year and based on this target alone, the ROI for the programme is currently tracking at 2577% at the time of writing this case study